Malcolm Alexander was exonerated on January 30, 2018, after spending 38 years in prison for a rape that DNA evidence proves he didn’t commit. The past few months have been eventful for Malcolm: he reunited with his son and grandson, married his childhood sweetheart and started a job as a laborer for Jefferson Parish.
On Thursday, Malcolm will be able to sit with his family at the Thanksgiving dinner table for the first time in nearly four decades. In honor of his first Thanksgiving home, the Innocence Blog asked him to reflect on the past few months and what he is most thankful for. Here is what he said:
How has your first year home been?
It’s been very enjoyable. It’s good to be free and to be back with my family and my sweetheart, Brenda. I’m getting by with the support of my family, the Innocence Project and everyone. I’m trying to make the best of my life, and I’m doing everything I can to leave some form of legacy behind.
Really, I’m just appreciating the fact that I’m free. Sometimes you come out of prison and you have more problems on the outside than you did on the inside. But, that hasn’t been the case for me. It’s been almost one year since I was freed, and it’s been a very good year.
“If you want to live, live in a life of love.” – Malcolm Alexander
What did it feel like to reunite with your son and your grandson?
Oh, it was wonderful! Just wonderful. I’ve enjoyed being with them a great deal. Last weekend, I went to my son’s house and the three of us watched the Saints beat the Rams!
I love every minute I spend with them. Every minute. I talk to them every day on the phone. Every day. During the week, I can’t wait for the weekend to come around because that’s when we are actually able to meet up and spend time together.
Malcolm Alexander, center, with his son and grandson–also named Malcolm–on the day he was exonerated.
You recently got married! Did you expect to get married within less than one year of being out of prison?
If Brenda wasn’t with anyone, then yes, I knew I was going to get married and I knew I was going to marry her. She is my son’s mother. But if I had gotten out of prison and she had been with someone else, I would’ve never gotten married because Brenda was the only woman I would’ve wanted to marry.
It has always been my hope and dream to get out of prison, get back together with Brenda, marry her and be with her for the rest of my life. I promise you I’ve told her this 1,000 times!
Malcolm and his wife Brenda.
What’s been the biggest challenge since you’ve been out of prison?
Reestablishing myself in society and trying to alleviate the nightmare of those 38 years I spent in prison for something I didn’t do. The memories of being there and what I went through during those years don’t just go away within a couple of months or even a year. My wife and my family have been trying hard to help me, but it’s something I know is going to take time.
Knowing this, do you have any advice for other exonerees who have recently regained their freedom?
Joy isn’t going to come from the money you may get. So, don’t look for money as being your main objective saying, “Now I’m free and I’m going to get paid.” My advice is to find your true love and live your life. Money can’t buy that. I tell my wife that all the time—money can’t buy what she has given me. I would pass over a billion dollars for the love I have right now.
That’s what I would recommend to anyone who has just been released from prison: if you want to live, live in a life of love. Don’t live in hate or anger about what they have done to you. Once it’s been done it’s been did and that can’t be changed.
Malcolm hugging his niece after his release from prison. Photo: Innocence Project New Orleans.
When you’re sitting around the Thanksgiving table this year, what are you going to tell your loved ones?
Thank you for supporting me through the 38 years I was in prison.
I think I know the answer to this question from what you’ve already told me, but what are you thankful for this year?
Oh, my family! I am very grateful that I actually get to spend a Thanksgiving with them, and I hope there will be many, many more. Even though my father passed away, my mother is, thankfully, still here. My family has a whole lot of love for me, and I have a whole lot of love for them.
Being free and having their love has been a blessing. You have to have the love from family to understand what freedom is. To really appreciate being free, your family has to open up with loving arms and say, “Come on in.”
“I would pass over a billion dollars for the love I have right now.” – Malcolm Alexander
Is there anything else you would like to share with the Innocence Project community and your supporters?
Like I always say, there is more good in the world than there is bad. The Innocence Project and the people who have been supportive of me show me that everyday. I know I’m not the only one they are helping—there are many others, and that alone says so much. I am not just going to tell them that I appreciate them for helping me get out of prison, but I am going to live the rest of my life showing my appreciation for them.
Right now, I’m actually on my way to a fundraiser for the Innocence Project New Orleans!* I want to show my support for them. I meant what I said when I got out of prison: anything I can do to help out, let me do it. It would bring me joy. I don’t just want to be on the receiving end; I want to be on the giving end, too.
So, to all of my supporters, let me just say thank you for letting me live. You reunited me with my childhood sweetheart and with my family. I appreciate the love you have given me. You just don’t know how much I appreciate it.
Malcolm and Brenda.
*The Innocence Project New Orleans partnered with the Innocence Project as local counsel for Malcolm Alexander.